It’s Nutcracker Season for the Ballerina!
Published Tuesday December 6, 2016
It’s Nutcracker season for the ballerina which means more injuries and problems with more intensive rehearsals. As a former professional ballet dancer, I remember not only the festive joy of wearing holiday leg warmers, but also the long dress rehearsals the company endured for successful performances. Spending more time in pointe shoes meant a greater risk for foot and ankle injuries.
Common injuries and problems include nail trauma, blisters, and muscle strains. Pointe shoes appear beautiful on the outside but on the inside can traumatize the nails making them loosen, bleed, change color or become infected. Blisters and corns can occur from skin rubbing within those delicate shoes. The combination of cold weather and increased level of activity can result in muscle strains and injuries.
Injury prevention begins with checking your pointe shoes to make sure they are the right fit for you. The length of the shoe, width of the toe box, type of vamp and stiffness of the shank are all important to consider when finding the proper pointe shoe. Keeping nails trimmed short can help prevent loosening or avulsion of nails. A tight toe box can cause nails to grow into the skin resulting in an ingrown toenail. This can cause pain, swelling, redness or local infection. If this happens, it is important to seek treatment from a podiatrist early!
Be sure to use appropriate padding to protect the skin, preventing blisters and corns from forming. There are several different options for toe pads made from different materials including gel, fabric, lambswool or combinations of these. For skin areas that are at risk for forming blisters, use tape instead of thicker padding to keep bulk down within the toe box. These include areas where blisters have formed before in the past or are beginning to develop. Tape comes in different materials including paper, foam, crepe, athletic cloth or coban.
Take time to stretch and warm up before the start of rehearsal, especially with the colder weather, to avoid muscle strains and injuries. Remember to layer leg warmers, sweaters and different warm up gear after dancing to prevent muscles from getting cold too fast.
Good luck, and enjoy a successful Nutcracker season on the stage!
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